Long renowned as a summer getaway for affluent local and international visitors, Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, is one of the most picturesque places on the northeastern seaboard. The entire windswept Atlantic coastline of the Cape looks like it's come straight from the brushstrokes of an Edward Hopper painting, and it's not hard to see why this region has been such an enduring source of creative inspiration for painters and photographers for many years. |
If you're visiting in the summer it might be hard to resist spending all your time on the miles upon miles of beaches that embrace the Cape, but the hugely diverse ecology of the region means that for nature lovers, there's a lot more to discover.
Here are two of the more unusual ways to explore the unique landscape of Cape Cod.
Visit a Cranberry Bog
There's a lot of open space in Cape Cod and local growers have found the perfect crop to fill it: cranberries! Sprawled across the cape are around 14,000 acres of cranberry 'bogs', which provide the perfect conditions for this delicious wetland fruit. You may be wondering how a visit to a cranberry bog would make for an interesting day out, but in fact, it's an outdoor adventure that not only affords you the opportunity to eat as many cranberries as you like, it also takes you through a fascinating system of wetlands in which a huge variety of plant and animal life thrives.
Many Cape Cod growers augment their crops with tourism, and you can take a tour of a certified-organic cranberry farm, with the farmer as your guide. You'll be traversing a landscape that's rooted in glacial deposits and lined with clay, organic matter, and sand – with nature inadvertently providing the ideal conditions for this particular crop.
From a trundling, open-sided vehicle you'll get a cranberry-eye view of the bogs, the furred and feathered farm residents (goats, horses, geese and peacocks, among others), and a running commentary on the relentless 12-month cycle of cranberry cultivation. The best part comes in the wet-growing areas, where you can see the vast scarlet flumes, brimming with literally millions of mature cranberries. You'll never look at your Thanksgiving turkey dinner the same again.
Follow the White Cedar Swamp Trail
Although it's part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park network of trails, the White Cedar Swamp Trail is one of the lesser visited ones. It's only short (1.25 miles), but it has a mysterious, otherworldly ambience that makes you feel like you just may have walked through a wardrobe and landed in Narnia.
While during the day (especially in summer) you might encounter a reasonable amount of walkers, for a magical experience that not many people choose, arm yourself with a torch, some water, and some insect repellent and set off at sunset along the boardwalk that winds its way through the eerie swamp. It's perfectly safe and gives you a totally different view of the trail.
Amateur botanists will be in heaven, with countless species of trees, mosses and vegetation, as well as, of course, the trail's namesake, the spooky looking ancient White Cedars, lined up like soldiers as far as the eye can see.
It's hard to believe that the White Cedar Swamp Trail both begins and ends on a beach - figuratively, the eerie landscape couldn't be more different to the silken dunes and rolling waves of the Atlantic coastline, just a mile or so away.
You can visit Cape Cod from a base in Boston, or stay in any of the surrounding areas of this beautiful part of Massachusetts - including the gorgeous historic island of Nantucket, which is just an easy drive away. If a trip to Boston is beyond the budget this year, try your luck to win a dream getaway to Massachusetts! Familytraveller.com are running a competition to win a fly-drive family holiday, which takes in Boston, Nantucket and Cape Cod – and even includes a cranberry bog tour!
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip and annual travel insurance policies. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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